Drew James

Drew James

 San Francisco, California, USA

Drew, an award winning songwriter, writes and sings an eclectic mix of Americana, blues, rock and folk. He adopts these as his own using a highly melodic, traditional songwriting style. His main influences are Tom Waits, Steve Earle, Lindsey Buckingham, John Prine and Leonard Cohen.


Award winning songwriter Drew James, a San Francisco native, began writing and performing his own contemporary folk songs in 1996. He performs his solo act all over the west coast, primarily in the bay area, including the Bread and Roses concert series. Drew’s songs have received airplay in the U.S. and Europe.

To hear Drew's one hour interview on KZGM's Kaleidoscope program go to http://www.drewjames.net/media.htm. (See link below)

His 2007 acoustic CD release "Way Beyond the Maze" is an intimate set of songs, including the 2006 Great American Song Contest award winner "You Can Cry to Me" and the 15th Billboard World Song Contest award winner “Thicker than Blood.” In 2006 he released “The Last Second Chance,” produced by Bruce Kaphan, which was submitted for Grammy consideration. It includes the Billboard Song Contest award winner "That Old Friday Night Feeling." The CD was also featured at the Toofy Film Festival in Boulder, Colorado. He appeared on Shuteye Records’ “United State of Americana” compilation CD that made it to #53 on the Americana Music Association charts in 2005.

“On his The Last Second Chance CD (2006), Drew James has created his own music realm, attractive and hospitable to any Real Music lover, no matter his or her genre preferences. Strictly speaking, the album is recorded in a folk-rock key, but there's so much True Blue feeling in every track that they sound "more Blues" to me than many of the "canonized" 12-bar standards. The arrangements and performance are tasteful and natural, and the production is simply perfect (a George Martin level work done by guitarist Bruce Kaphan). To those yet deciding whether to buy or not this CD, I'd say it'd be one of their best investments, a "long term" one - the more you play this record, the better it sounds. Drew James' music world is a place to stay - "you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave".”
- Paul Bondarovski, Midnight Special Blues Radio

“As Far As I Know subscribes to traditional roots songwriting, but bends the rules slightly by subverting traditional sounds with intimate singer/songwriter blues tones” – Ryan Hoffer, Shuteye Records A&R


Thicker Than Blood

Written By: Drew James

I stand wounded at the edge of night
Cryin’ to the moon can’t you make it right
As the mad rain falls down and the whiskey wind it blows

If the devil calls out my name
I got nowhere to lay the blame
Sixty years of trouble is all I have to show

And my sins flow down like a river
Sins flow down like a river
Sins flow down like a river
Thicker than blood

A burdened mind makes it hard to stand
I live in the broken promised land
And I’m never gonna make it up to the top of the hill

Can’t repent cause it’s too late
My last horse has left the gate
And its pulled up lame at the door of the bonemeal mill


I’ve got one more thing to say
Before I slowly drift away
There may be things
You think you would never do

That’s how I used to feel
Till my fate turned like a wheel
If it can happen to me it can happen to you

And your sins will flow like a river
Sins will flow like a river
Sins will flow like a river
Thicker than blood

Hands Up!

Written By: Drew James

All night train
I’ll see it in the morning light
All night train
I’ll see it in the morning light

Hiding high above the blind
In a Smith & Wesson dream
When the whistle blows and the engine slows
I’ll jump through a cloud of steam
It ain’t far from car to car
I can make it in one leap
Crawling ‘round without a sound
To where the rich men sleep

Hands up
Hands down
Hand it over
Arms bound

(Repeat chorus)

I hear the wheels and smell the steel
Rise through the crack of dawn
Wait and wait till I hear the brake
Then through the air I come
At 5 o’clock I pick the lock
Into first class I creep
But the plot’s undone when I see a gun
Pointing back at me

(Repeat refrain)

Out of luck like a sitting duck
Cause in the train car that I chose
Were cops escorting wards of the court
In their orange prison clothes
They chained me up with two handcuffs
And now I’m doing my time
The bars of a cell sound like railroad bells
When you bang your head and cry

You Can Cry to Me

Written By: Drew James

When blue skies grow cloudy in your eyes
And the wind from the mountain smells of rain
When your shadow in the sand seems your only friend
And tonight even that one won’t remain

When the spring leaves start falling from your trees
And the blossoms’ summer colors turn to brown
When your birds refuse to sing and it seems you’ve lost your wings
And you feel like you’re sinking into the ground

When sad and lonely’s all you see
You know you can cry to me

When your sweet dreams won’t get out of their beds
And your secrets all run naked far and wide
When the answers that you seek grow more distant with each blink
And you couldn’t chase them faster if you tried

When your wise men are all made out as fools
And the words you live by all go up in smoke
When you realize though you do not regret things that you do
You still regret the things that you don’t

When a gentle shoulder’s what you need
You know you can cry to me

And when your stars regain their wishes once again
And your back is finally to the wind
When all your tears are finally through
Can I come and cry to you?
Can I come and cry to you?

It's Always Summer Somewhere

Written By: Drew James

It’s Always Summer Somewhere
Drew James © 2005

Train whistles, piano music, burning leaves
Make me turn and look back up this one way street
You know I never kept
All those notes you left
But underneath the bed
I found one that said
It’s always summer somewhere
It’s always summer somewhere

I guess the truth just wasn’t very plain to see
We blurred the line between our love and perjury
I thought I knew you best
So I put it to the test
And forced you to confess
In a note that read
It’s always summer somewhere
It’s always summer somewhere

June romance blew hot just like the Santa Ana wind
July took us to places that we had never been
In August you promised me our love would never end
Then September drained these words out from your pen

It’s always summer somewhere
It’s always summer somewhere

This winter night has chilled me way down to my bones
This note you left behind drilled way down to my soul
It was tearing me apart
Until I had a change of heart
And found it held the secret
To my brand new start
It’s always summer somewhere
It’s always summer somewhere

Gone now are the reasons that I had left to stay
Gone just like the seasons in a world of constant change
I’m picking up your final note and I’m throwing it away
As I walk out the door I too will say

It’s always summer somewhere
It’s always summer somewhere
It’s always summer somewhere

That Old Friday Night Feeling

Written By: Drew James

My first job was at an Omaha meatpacking plant
They started me out on the swing shift
Just a bit above minimum wage

I remember at the end of my first full week
Smelling the ink on my paycheck
As I drove out the company gate

There’s was something fresh in the air
It ran like the wind through my hair
It lit up the sky like an independence day flare

It was that old Friday night feeling
Welling up inside of me
A feeling almost too good to believe in
Oh, my outlook gets back on the mend
When my baby’s waiting ‘round the bend
With that old Friday night feeling
It’ll carry us into the weekend
And the best part of my story comes at the end

After near ten years on the same loading dock
I noticed the shipments got fewer
And the layoffs were not far behind

After near six months on the unemployed line
I got a call at home from my foreman
Sayin’, “Drew, come on back to the job”

Last Monday I was back on the dock
Now it’s Friday and I just punched the clock
And there’s an old friend riding with me tonight in my truck

It’s that … (Chorus)

Now I’m coming around the bend
Down the block there’s a small piece of land
And there with my baby is where my story will end

With that …(Chorus)

Powerful Sunshine

Written By: Drew James

Time to go
I can smell the tar on the road
From my head
To my shoes
I can tell there’s no time to lose

Looking out over the golden hills
Driving with the cool west wind
Once we reach our destination
Gonna start all over again

And I live for these days
Drenched in your powerful sunshine
Hot on the chase
Of whatever lies in front of our headlights
Life is on the run
When the two of us are out there on Highway One

Musical Bridge

Your farewells
We’re on the way to someplace else
Where we’ll land
I don’t know
The travel guide’s a rolling stone



Musical Bridge


Musical outro

Childhood Christmas

Written By: Drew James

My only church is the universe
That blows my sweet time away
Where an ancient bearded man with a sickle and an hourglass
Pays me a visit each day

He spoke only once I remember
It came as a total surprise
He tapped me twice on the shoulder
And said, ”Brother, can you spare the time?”

Open the curtains, stoke up the fire
Look out on the chapel dark sea
Wipe the grins from your mud covered rain boots
As the moon conjures up tonight’s dreams

Brush away the cobwebs, turn up the lamp
Splash gaslight into the trees
And I’ll paint you a picture of a childhood Christmas
I can make it any color you please

The silent stars in the heavens
Prepare them selves to be gazed
While the ocean sings its songs from inside of a seashell
A steam organ waltz gently plays

The evening becomes sentimental
When the whales start telling their tales
The town crier’s tears fall around me
Filling 22 buckets and pails


Love sends out its invitations
They are opened behind closed doors
Expressed in the language of hope and creation
They always leave you wanting for more

The dream wheel spins for good fortune
Where the carnival kewpie doll smiles
Skeptics and hopers all turn into gamblers
Glassy eyed, nervous and wild

(Chorus X2)

Carried Away

Written By: Drew James

I read all your intentions oh so wrong
I’ll try to be more careful from now on
I never thought the urge could get this strong
But it’s been so long
It’s been so long

My hopes clung from a tall daredevil height
Awaiting the chance to take to flight
I waited ‘til the moment seemed just right
I wished I may
I wished I might

I was carried away
Like a bird from the seashore
Like a child on the dance floor
I was carried away, carried away
Carried away, carried away

We looked upon the sky of midnight blue
Waiting for the yellow harvest moon
I drank in the air of your perfume
So close to you
My fever grew

And I was carried away
Like a bird from the seashore
Like a child on the dance floor
I was carried away, carried away
Carried away, carried away

I was carried away
I was carried away

Bad for Business

Written By: Drew James

I grew up a poor boy
Got a job by the time I was twelve
Worked at an ice cream shop when I was in my teens
That was back in the 60’s
So I grew my hair like the hippies
Until the boss pulled me aside and said these words to me

He said it’s bad for business
And I don't go in for that kind of thing
Bad for business
I just want to hear that register ring
His words made me wonder
Why the American flag ain’t green
I guess good for business is just bad for me

When I graduated
Got a job from nine to five
Which grew to seven to seven then five to nine
My weekends got squeezed so tight
They all fell on Sunday night
So I asked the boss, “Please hire more help I’m dyin’! “


So I took off my suit and tie
And picked up my guitar
And taught myself to play some rock ‘n roll tunes
I tried to book a gig at a bar
I told ‘em I could be star
But the owner said, “With no draw you won’t be playin' here soon.”


Now my cash flow is in retreat
And food’s all I know how to eat
And it's bad for business that's bad for me
I guess it’s just business that's bad for me

You know if it’s business, I guess it can’t be fun
And if it’s fun, I guess it can’t be a business
So much for the pursuit of happiness
They just keep giving me the business

Pain And Paradise

Written By: Drew James

If I were to ask you
Would you answer truly?
Would you smile softly?
Would you whisper to me?
Or would you stare at me in silence
And shake your head in disbelief
Would I regret it for a lifetime?
Would you turn around and leave

Are you the dream that will come true?
Or must I learn to forget you?
Without an answer to these questions
I’ll be doomed to spend my life
Between pain and paradise

If I were to tell you
All the things I want to say
Would you reach your hand and touch me?
And chase my loneliness away?
Or would you question my intentions
Would you believe me insincere?
Would your words come from a distance?
Would you pretend you didn’t hear?


If I were to kiss you
Would your lips be moist and sweet?
Would you draw me ever closer?
Would your passion quickly heat?
Or would your eyes fill up with horror?
Would you break down into tears?
Would you pull away in anger?
Confirming all my deepest fears


If I were to ask you
Would you answer truly?
Would you meet me half way?
Would you lead me up the pathway?
Up the pathway to paradise
To paradise
Would you meet me?
Would you lead me to paradise?

Nothing Personal

Written By: Drew James

I sat down beside her at Rancho Rob’s café
The stools were close together, yet she seemed so far away
I ordered some coffee and she said I’ll take more
Then she looked in my direction as the waitress stood and poured
So I asked her, ”Have you been in here before?”

Then she said, “It’s nothing personal my friend,
But my last romance just came to bitter end
Now I just can’t go through that all again
Until my heart can mend
It’s nothing personal my friend”

I said, “I am sorry, I was trying to break the ice”
Then she broke into a smile and said, “That’s OK you seem nice”

Then we spent the evening talking and she said, “Please walk me home.”
When we got to her apartment she said, “Don’t leave me alone.”
Then she closed her eyes and kissed me soft and slow
Then whispered these words soft and low

She said, “It’s nothing personal my friend,
But my last romance came to such a bitter end
That I want you to stay here if you can
And help my heart to mend
It’s nothing personal my friend”

Each day with her was better than the day before
She opened up a world to me that I had not explored
Then one day, as I knocked upon her door
I noticed a note laying on the floor

And it said, “It’s nothing personal my friend,
But my last romance jut called me up again
Now I’ve left to be there next to him
I hope you understand
It’s nothing personal my friend”

Months had passed when I went back to Rancho Rob’s Café
And there she was sitting in exactly the same place
She noticed me the moment that I walked in the door
Then she walked across the room and said, “I have missed you so.”
But before she could say one word more

I said, “It’s nothing personal my friend,
But our last romance came to such a bitter end
Now I just can’t go through that all again
I hope you understand
It’s nothing personal my friend”

I said, “It’s nothing personal my friend,
But my last romance just came to bitter end
Now I just can’t go through that all again
Until my heart can mend
It’s nothing personal my friend”


Way Beyond the Maze EP (2007)
The Last Second Chance - EP (2006)
As Far As I Know - EP (2003)

Drew's songs have received airplay in the U.S. and Europe. "The Last Second Chance" is being featured at the Toofy Film Festival in Boulder Colorado (9/28 - 10/1/2006). It is also under Grammy consideration.

Set List

Drew's current set list consists of over 100 original songs. Although Drew has completed 4 full length studio CDs, there are scores of popular original songs on his set list he has yet to record.